The Paris Fire fighters have been dressing in blue as long as people remember, in the continuity of the black leather jacket and probably for the sake of uniformity. Today, the Paris fire brigade turns red. The story of renewal of the Paris firefighter garments started in 2015. The aim was clearly to optimize safety and improve the ease and comfort of the Paris firefighter. A tender was written en several companies, national and international, participated.
Over the years, we have been building up a huge fund of skills and know-how, but the best way to create the appropriate garment is to talk to the wearer in the field. They can tell us exactly what they want. We have been doing this since our very existence in the 1960s, practicing customer centricity “avant la lettre”.
The needs of the Paris fire fighters brigade were focused on the performance of thermal and mechanical protection of the garments, on ergonomics and comfort through the reduction of heat stress, on durability.
The first objective was therefore to define the most relevant areas for improvement related to the constraints of interventions in the third largest fire department in the world. The synthesis of this work was clear. The BSPP had to innovate on several points:
- Optimize thermal protection by increasing leakage time
- Maximize visibility,
- Improve comfort by reducing heat stress,
- Improve ergonomics, through design, functionality, and options.
We got back to the drawing board several times to come to the revolutionary garments the Paris fire brigade wears today.
The main evolution lies in the quality and performance of the fabric which is a high-tech complex combining a thermal barrier of Nomex Twin Square with a waterproofing membrane, the SIO-A.I.R. PTFE, and a thermal barrier that is Techweave.
Compared to the previous model, which is already very qualitative, this technical fabric called “complex 830” offers much better protection against thermal impact, has outstanding breathability and is way lighter.
Compliance with Annex B of EN 469 does not affect the good values obtained in breathability, weight, flexibility while providing very good visibility. The top film provides better protection against abrasion, and its construction with metallized support offers good flexibility for more comfort. The FTP2100 band complies with EN 469:2005 standards but also with the high visibility EN ISO 20471 standard with retro-reflection over its full width.
Beyond fashion or aesthetics, the results of laboratory studies on the ability of a colour to retard the transfer of radiant heat have been decisive. The study shows very clearly that the sandstone colour (beige) retards the most heat transfer to the radiation. On a very tight second place is the colour red (differs with only few hundredths of a second). This red has also been shown to provide better visibility when working outdoors at night or in fumes. This visibility is also enhanced by new, entirely yellow, prismatic reflective strips.
Finally, sandstone colour was chosen for ELD staff and fire trainers, exposed longer. The red colour was assigned to all fire brigade personnel.
Comfort was another very important issue to tackle. According to the many Paris fire fighters we contacted, this was -together with their safety of course- one of their main concerns. Our dedicated developers and designers (some of them are fire-fighter volunteers themselves and know how important a well fit and comfortable suit is), made many improvements on ergonomics and added various accessories to both the jacket and pants.
Customer intimacy and R&D
The value of our customer intimacy and R&D approach is unequalled. We always work in teams of interdisciplinary experts. In addition, we have an accumulated know-how of both garments and technical textiles for more than 110 years now. Our vertically integrated value chain includes the production of yarns, woven fabrics, felts, coated technical textiles and garments.
We maintain impressive testing labs where products are tested for every kind of resistance relevant to their particular use. While final testing to obtain certificates oft en must be done by certified agencies, every item is first tested in-house. Our labs can stand comparison with the best labs worldwide.
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating” goes the saying. Therefore, we are proud that our customer is very satisfied and boasts his new garments and equipment. The best way to find out is on the customers’ website, their social media and in the video they made.